Whisky Exchange shakes up rum classifications

Leading independent spirits retailer The Whisky Exchange has introduced a new classification system for rum. placing more emphasis on flavours and production than colour.

The system has been devised over the past year by Dawn Davies MW, the company’s head of buying, and will also be used by its specialist spirits wholesale business Speciality Drinks.

It divides products into single distillery rums and “multi-distillery” blends. In turn, single distillery rums sub-divide into technical classifications for single traditional column still, single traditional pot still, single traditional blended and single modernist.

Multi-distillery rums are divided into blended traditionalist and blended modernist categories.

In addition, rums will be identified in one of six “flavour camps”: light and uncomplicated; herbaceous and grassy; tropical and fruity; fruity and spicy; dry and spicy; and rich and treacly.

The Whisky Exchange hopes the system will give consumers and the trade a more informed understanding of the rum category.

Its website will still allow for searches along dark, golden and white colour lines in addition to the new technical and flavour classifications, to give users a range of search preferences.

Both the site and the Speciality Drinks wholesale list will also include extra information on such aspects as whether rums are fully aged at source or have added sugar.

Davies was inspired by the technically-based Gargano Classification for rums devised by Luca Gargano of the Italian-based Velier rum brand and Richard Seale of Foursquare in Barbados.

Their system has become widely-adopted in the rum geek community but The Whisky Exchange hopes its refined approach will have broader appeal.

“We know the consumer, and the trade to some extent, is crying out for more education on the different styles of rum,” says Davies.

“Confusion abounds when Wray & Nephew white rum tastes nothing like Veritas white rum.

“The flavours you find in rums are very different according to their production method and when that information is combined with flavour profiles we can help people start to build a picture of the category.

“We know it may not be an immediately perfect solution but this is the jumping off point and we look forward to the industry working with us to create the ideal scenario for everyone.”

Sukhinder Singh, co-founder and owner of The Whisky Exchange and Speciality Drinks, added: “As consumer demand grows, and sales of rum reflect this, so too does the number of products entering the market.

“In recent years we’ve seen an influx of what we’d call sipping rums, meaning gone are the days when rum was reserved for a Mojito.

“Artisan distilleries, independent bottlers and big brands playing with production methods and ageing have increased the desire to sip rum instead of only mixing it.

“This really is the new world of rum and the new system of classification is our education tool.”

The Whisky Exchange is the reigning Independent Spirits Retailer of the Year in DRN’s Drinks Retailing Awards.